Those of us who have done DNA testing know that two of the biggest challenges are keeping track of all the information and narrowing down that information into smaller buckets that can be analyzed to determine common ancestors. The analysis tools have gotten a lot better in the last year, but there really hasn’t been a good way to keep everything organized. I think Genome Mate is the answer to my problems, because it builds off the available analysis tools and provides one place that I can pull all my DNA information into, sort through it, and keep track of what I’ve done.
Between my own testing at both Family Tree DNA and 23andme and then testing my parents at FTDNA, I have around 4,000 DNA matches (and I know many people have way more than that). I think we can all agree that when the numbers get into the thousands, some kind of system is essential. Spreadsheets are my go-to tool for any kind of analysis and organization and my test of any software application is this – is it really better than a spreadsheet? I currently have about 20 spreadsheets I use with DNA and I also use Evernote for more extensive comments; I will likely still use some spreadsheets and notes, but others are going to be replaced by Genome Mate.
The developer has a blog, as well as several YouTube videos that demo Genome Mate and show you how to get started. I’m not going to repeat that information, but I do want to share some features and screen shots that have sold me on the program (which is free, by the way).
First of all, I can import my results from FTDNA, 23andme, and Gedmatch. This includes chromosomes and segments for me and my matches, profile information from the matches, in-common-with data from DNAgedcom, and my own gedcom. Furthermore, when I have more matches, I can do another import and Genome Mate recognizes the matches I’ve already imported as duplicates and does not import them again. Importing FTDNA info is easy if you use downloads from DNAGedcom. 23andme is a bit challenging the first time (it took me about an hour), but it should be easier going forward. Gedmatch, unfortunately, has been down since I started playing with Genome Mate, so I haven’t had a chance to try importing from there yet.
So, once I’ve imported everyone, I get this nice list, by chromosome, that shows all my matches and their segments. Brown is from FTDNA and blue-green is from 23andme (I’ve redacted the first names, for privacy). I can see, at a glance, which segments overlap, regardless of which testing service they used. (Click on images to enlarge.)
So that’s great, but what if I have a specific person I’m working with? I don’t want to see everyone; I only want to see the people who have overlapping segments with him or her. I can click on the little icon next to my name on that person’s row and now I have a short list to work with.
I can also mouse over the little people icon next to the specific person’s name and it highlights the in-common-with group for that person. When I do that with Abney, I see that she is related to my mom and to Mason. So, I’ve narrowed down the match group to three and I know which side of my family tree to look at for a common ancestor.
Now, let’s look at a segment profile. When I click on the segment for Abney in the graph, I get this screen, which I just love, because this is where everything starts pulling together.
I haven’t manually typed anything on this screen (yet). I can add information to the “Match Note,” “Relative Note,” or “Research Comments” boxes, when I start working on this match. Everything you see here was pulled in during the import process. I can see the match’s name and email address. If I click on the Send Email link, then Outlook opens automatically with an email addressed to her, a form letter is automatically generated, and Genome Mate captures the date of the email in this profile, so that I know when I contacted her. My DNA correspondence log? Replaced.
Any surnames that she had entered on her FTDNA profile are automatically pulled into the light green box in the middle and right below that the program identifies surnames that we have in common. Then on the right-hand side in the box that says “Possible Connections,” Genome Mate has pulled in my ancestors that have those surnames. How awesome is that! I can mouse over any of those possible connections and their details populate in the gray box below.
One of my favorite features is the button right above the “Possible Connections” box that says “Gedcom Compare.” If I have a copy of a match’s gedcom file, I can click on this button, choose their file, and Genome Mate will run a comparison.
It pulls up my ancestors on the left and those from the other gedcom on the right. Surnames in common are in the middle and if I click on one, then only people with that surname are displayed. In this example, I clicked on Cunningham, so I can see my Cunningham ancestorss and hers, side by side. No more going blind trying to look at someone else’s family tree. Of course, the challenge is getting those gedcom files for comparison, but that’s another story.
I have just scratched the surface of the capabilities of this program. I’m still learning all the nuances, myself. I mentioned earlier that there is a blog and YouTube videos. I strongly suggest taking advantage of both, especially before you start importing.
I really think that Genome Mate, combined with the native analysis tools at FTDNA and 23andme and the resources available at DNAGedcom are going to make a big difference in my DNA success rate.